Is the Path You Follow or the Destination the Key?
Far to often we lose focus of where we want to go because we simply can’t see our destination. Barriers block our view causing us to lose sight of our goals temporarily, and that causes for to many people to detour off a chosen path.
In reality, what really matters is knowing where we are going and what lies directly in front of us.What matters is the path we are on.
When traveling along the path if we take care of what the immediate steps, the ones we can see directly in front of us, then we will stay on track and move in the right direction.
It’s much like driving cross-country from California to New York in the dark. All you can see are twenty or so yards in front of you. You can see what your head lights show you. You follow the map, and follow the signs, but the only way to get there is to drive those few yards at a time. Then the next few yards and so on. Barring no obstacles one will eventually arrive at their destination.
Of course, one obstacle that can keep us from arriving at the destination is not having a plan. Developing a plan on how to get from point A to point B helps us pay attention to the signs around us. It helps us gauge where we are compared to where we want to be. Without that we are not to very likely to get there.
So it is with life…Those without a plan rarely arrive to the destination they really want to be at.
Another obstacle is failure to pay attention to the warning signs. Following a road map or chosen path explicitly can also lead to devastating results
I recently heard a new story about a couple who blindly followed their new Mercedes GPS system and didn’t pay attention to the road signs. The sign read “road closed.” The couple drove their car off a washed out bridge. Apparently they aren’t alone. There was a story last year in the Times of London that reported drivers were following their GPS directions right into a river.
Another obstacles is distraction. It’s easy to get distracted by the scenery around us, and detour off our chosen path. Having a firm destination helps us handle the detours that may arise.
A missile will not head straight to it’s target. It is constantly making adjustments as it travels through the air to it’s destination. It has an internal guidance system that guides it towards its destination. An internal guidance system allows us to stay focused on the path before us, but still allows us to know what our destination is.
A traditional Zen tale reminds us of how we can lose sight of the path by focusing to much on the destination:
A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master: “If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.”
The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?”
Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”
“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?” asked the student.
“Thirty years,” replied the Master.
“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”
Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”
Some success coaches will tell us that keeping your eyes focused on the goal is important. Others teach us that the path we travel is most important. I say they are both important and that the trick is to keep a balance.
If you have paid attention to the signs around you, and have followed your plan (your roadmap) you will get to your destination!